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The two boaters who had ventured into the Lachine rapids and who had to resort to emergency services to pick them up had little navigation experience, we learned Monday during the first day of hearings of the inquest into the death of firefighter Pierre Lacroix, who died during the rescue operation.

Firefighter Lacroix, 58, found himself trapped under a capsized rescue boat when he and three of his colleagues went into the rapids to assist the two boaters in distress on October 17, 2021.

On Monday, the owner of the boat who got into distress in the rapids, Tommy Yi, testified before coroner Géhane Kamel that he had recently bought the boat and that he wanted to go for a ride to try it with him. a friend.

He admitted, however, that neither he nor his passenger, Ana Dicu, had any nautical experience. Both still held their pleasure craft licenses, which they had obtained more than 10 years earlier.

Shortly after the start of their trip on the river, the engine of their boat overheated and would not start. Mr. Yi tried a few times to drop anchor, but the boat never stopped and it began to drift towards the rapids. Four Montreal firefighters, including Pierre Lacroix, therefore intervened to rescue them.

“We are going to capsize! We’re going to capsize! Yi exclaimed on Monday, echoing what happened the day of the incident. He then cracked on the witness stand.

Subsequently, he saw the fireboat drift away and then capsize. It was at this point that he managed to briefly restart his boat’s engine and heard the firefighters shout “Help! Help ! »

Mr. Yi then helped two firefighters onto his boat before the engine stopped again. One of the firefighters on board was unconscious.

Another rescue boat arrived on the scene, and Mr. Yi helped the latter navigate to a third firefighter in the water. He mentioned that he never saw firefighter Lacroix.

During his testimony, Dacu said she and her friend hesitated before calling 911. “At the time, I was unaware of the danger. I didn’t even know there were rapids,” she said.

Mme Dacu also accidentally recorded part of the rescue while attempting to use the flashlight function on his cell phone. Upon her return to dry land, she showed the video to a firefighter.

But when she was able to retrieve her cell phone, she realized that someone had tried to send the video to one of Mr. Lacroix’s daughters.

In the following hours, his video ended up in the media.

Mr. Lacroix’s body was recovered the next day when police used an underwater camera to inspect the underside of the fireboat.

“My father was my role model”

Stephanie Lacroix, the dead firefighter’s eldest daughter, represented her family at Monday’s hearing. She asked Mr. Yi questions during his testimony and spoke on the witness stand herself. She thanked him for having the courage to testify and to return to help the firefighters in the water.

Mme Lacroix testified later that day, admitting that she had been feeling a lot of anger since her father’s death. Celebrating her 26e birthday on Monday, she admitted that it was still difficult for her to talk about her father in the past tense.

She described her father as a man of few words, but whose actions and generosity spoke for themselves. “My father was my model, my hero, before being that of others,” she said.

In October, the Standards, Equity, Health and Safety Commission published a report stating that the fireboat should never have gone so far in the Lachine Rapids sector, in because of the “limitations” of the boat.

Coroner Kamel is presiding over the hearings, which are to last two weeks in Joliette.

The investigation into the death of firefighter Pierre Lacroix has opened in Joliette – OI Canadian

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